July 14, 2015

Journey of the Hieromancer

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Analyze. Adapt. Craft a response. Gain control. This is the ethos of hieromancy, the brand of "law magic" practiced by the Planeswalker Gideon Jura. It's Gideon Week here on DailyMTG, so I'm here to build a deck that tells the story of everyone's favorite hieromancer. Let's lay down the law—Gideon style!

I have a process that I use whenever I build a deck around a specific character or storyline. Not only does it help me organize my thoughts, it also prevents me from ending up on a rapidly shrinking area of free space as dozens of potential deck additions pile up on my bedspread. Gideon seems like a no-nonsense sort of fellow, so I bet he'd approve of my efficient methods.

First, take a long look at the key cards you want to build your deck around. In this case, it's pretty clear where we want to start. Gideon has been depicted on three different planeswalker cards. Here they are:

Most of my flavorful decks only run one card depicting each character, and that normally includes different versions of the same Planeswalker. Since we're trying to tell Gideon's story, however, I'm going to break my rule and include all three. Think of the deck like a book where the planeswalker cards depict different moments in Gideon's character arc.

What does Gideon like to do, mechanically? Well, he's not one to shy away from a fight. Not only does Gideon get more loyal when he's up against a bigger army, but he likes to enter the battle himself and help defeat your foes in armed combat. We'll have to build our deck in order to take advantage of that.

Now that we have a sense of what Gideon likes to do, let's take a look at some of the cards that reference him by name, include him in the flavor text, or depict him in their art:

These two cards show what Gideon's style is all about. He doesn't sit around and wait for the fight to come to him like a blue-aligned lawmage. Gideon acts proactively, with his soldiers subduing (tapping down) the enemy before they can cause too much harm. Are there any other Gideon-related cards that allow us to control the board?

All three of these cards are from Magic Origins, and they all help tell the story of Gideon's early years. Hixus was Gideon's mentor during his incarceration, teaching hieromancy—as depicted in Grasp of the Hieromancer—to the young Planeswalker. Kytheon's Irregulars was the informal army that Gideon commanded outside of prison, and they fought beside him during the attack on Akros.

These cards give us plenty of board control, but we can't just sit around and wait for our position to be overrun—that's not the Gideon way. Lucky for us, there are a couple of cards that reference Gideon while encouraging the buildup of a token army:

Hey, it's our first non-white card! It's fine to leave Martial Glory out if you'd like to keep the deck mono-white, but I'd like to commemorate the era of Gideon's life when he fought alongside Aurelia in an attempt to restore order to the failing guilds of Ravnica. Plus, adding red gives us access to these three cards:

The Temple of Triumph is the setting for Gideon's stand against the flock of harpies that threatened to overtake Akros, so it's a great land for us to draw mana from. Aurelia is the leader of the Boros, and she fought alongside Gideon during the events of Return to Ravnica. Even though Gideon turned down her offer to join the legion and his disagreements with her aggressive policies show why he's a white-aligned Planeswalker instead of a white-red hieromancer, that alliance is still an important story moment to depict. Assemble the Legion might not be a Gideon card at heart, but it does show the affect that Gideon had on the Boros during his time there. It's also going to be really helpful in allowing us to win some games!

Before we assemble the rest of the support cards that we're going to need, there are a few other Gideon-related spells I'd like to include:

Celestial Flare and Oust both feature awesome Gideon Jura flavor text. They also fit the hieromancy board control strategy we've got going, so let's add them to the deck.


Unquestioned Authority | Art by Zoltan Boros

Unquestioned Authority depicts a Boros general—a role which Gideon filled at one time—establishing order in Ravnica. While we don't have a ton of big creatures to put this on, even sticking it on a 2/2 Knight can make for a really useful blocker as well as a way to force through some late game damage. Want to make a really flavorful play? Animate one of your Gideon Jura planeswalker cards, stick Unquestioned Authority on him, and swing for the win.

These three cards tell the story of Gideon's last moments on Theros—meeting the sun God, accepting his quest, and losing his most loyal soldiers because of a spear thrown by his own hand. Heliod is great in this deck, and while Tragic Arrogance isn't great when everything is going according to plan, it's a fine way to reboot things if the board gets out of control. It'll cost us our Soldier army in the process, of course, but that's the price of Tragic Arrogance.

This card depicts Gideon on an Eldrazi-ravaged Zendikar, a plane he visited before the events of Return to Ravnica. While Near-Death Experience isn't ideal in this deck, having a copy around to tell this part of Gideon's story while stealing a couple of cheap wins seems really fun.

Now that we've got all of our Gideon-related cards accounted for, it's time to figure out how many of each we want to run. Gideon's Avenger and Gideon's Lawkeeper are really important, so I'd like to run the full four copies of each. Gideon is bound to have multiple avengers and law keepers on his payroll, right?

If we really want to control the board, we're going to need multiples of our key hieromancy spells. That means two copies each of Grasp of the Hieromancer and Celestial Flare. I'd like to double up on our combat trick, our token pump, and our best token generator as well.

That gives us room for just a few more cards. Here's what I've chosen:

Gideon always needs more Soldiers (and more two-drops), so we're going to be raising the alarm quite often in this deck. Mentor of the Meek and Mass Calcify are bigger flavor reaches, but they bring a lot of raw power to the table while still doing things that Gideon would approve of. My final list:

  Journey of the Hieromancer

As a general note, I'm always fine running two copies of certain nonbasic lands if the deck requires it. Lands represent a magical link to a specific place, so playing a second copy of something like Temple of Triumph just means that your connection to that place is twice as strong.

I wanted the basic lands to represent the different places that Gideon has traveled. He was at his reddest during his time on Ravnica, so I've opted for Return to Ravnica Mountain #266, which has a very red-white color palate. I've split the fifteen Plains evenly between Theros #233 (the most orderly of the Theros Plains), Rise of the Eldrazi #231 (it shows a crumbling hedron, which foreshadows the destruction to come), and Shards of Alara #232 (my favorite Plains depicting Bant).

I'd stick around, but I got married last weekend and my wife wants to see if my Gideon deck is a match for her beloved Elementals deck. It's going to be a tough battle!

Until next time!

-Chas Andres



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